Veterans unemployment rose sharply in June even amid encouraging news for the rest of the country’s job market, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The jobless rate for all American veterans last month was 4.8 percent, up from 4.1 percent the previous month. Similarly, the rate for veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era rose from 4.0 percent in May to 5.2 percent in June.

Nationally, payroll employment grew by 850,000 jobs last month, but the country’s unemployment rate also saw a slight increase from May to June, from 5.8 percent to 5.9 percent.

Economic experts have warned that month-to-month unemployment figures can fluctuate based on sampling sizes. Even with the increase, the June unemployment numbers for veterans remain below the national rate and represent the second-best monthly estimate since the start of the pandemic 15 months ago.

The 4.8 percent figure translates into about 440,000 veterans across America looking for work last month. That number was more than 775,000 in June 2020.

About two of every five veterans working today served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era., BLS officials said.

Last month, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said his department is focused on expanding current veterans jobs assistance programs rather than pushing for new initiatives to help unemployed veterans.

“[Veterans employment] continues to be a priority for the president, and I think we’ll be in a position through the generation of additional data to make [our programs] more effective,” he said.

BLS officials also reported a decrease in the number of individuals who worked from home in the last month, from 16.6 percent in May to 14.4 percent in June. That figure reflects the loosening of pandemic restrictions across the country as vaccine distribution continues.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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